The review disc is a re-release of music recorded by Eliot Fisk
in 2004. This all Castelnuovo-Tedesco programme serves as be
a testimony. For the uninitiated it proves just how fine a composer
for guitar he was. For the familiar it is a reminder that few
modern-day composers of guitar music equal the quality of his
Close collaboration between Andrés Segovia and Castelnuovo-Tedesco
produced some gems of the guitar repertory which at that time
was rather lacking in original works of substance. One of his
best known and most revered works is Concerto for Guitar
and Orchestra, Op 99. Those familiar with both this composition
and the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo, could
be forgiven for suggesting that aspects of each reminds one
of the other. Written when Castelnuovo-Tedesco was fleeing for
his life from Mussolini-dominated Italy, the slow movement reflects
a lyrical nostalgia. At a time when Joaquin Rodrigo had just
lost an infant, he was also penning his famous guitar concerto.
The slow movement reflects a similar lyrical nostalgia and is
purported to be symbolic of his prayers and exchange with deity
during this period of grief.
For Castelnuovo-Tedesco it was, in some ways, unfortunate that
on arrival in his new home California, U.S.A. his prodigious
talents as a composer of fine music were subjected to more commercial
endeavours, such as film music, so that he could survive financially.
Henry Mancini, Andre Previn and John Williams were all strongly
influenced by Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Of him cataloguer Nick Rossi
said: 'He was not only the kindest and most generous person
I ever met, but also the most brilliant'
Eliot Fisk enjoys a high profile among aficionados of the guitar,
particularly in relation to his close association with Andrés
Segovia, and adoration of the Maestro. After Segovia's death
a number of his original compositions for guitar were discovered.
The Maestro's wife gave Fisk exclusive rights for the first
recording and performance of these works. Fisk's DVD, The
Segovia Style, is dedicated to analysis and emulation of
the style that made Segovia the world's most famous guitarist.
Fisk is Professor of Guitar at the Universität Mozarteum
in Salzburg where he teaches in five different languages. He
also teaches at the New England Conservatory in Boston and is
married to the acclaimed guitarist Zaira Meneses; they spend
their time between Boston, Salzburg and Granada, Spain.
In the hands of Eliot Fisk the guitar becomes an instrument
of attack, cut and thrust. While he manages to pierce all the
notes, parrying on the part of the music results in it evading
him most of the time. There is a propensity in recordings by
Fisk for the music to suffer significantly because flamboyant
technical rhetoric takes precedence, and this disc is no exception.
Fortunately in the concerto and ensemble music there are skilled
stringed-instrument players who very capably compensate by reminding
us of how the score should sound.
In the solo music Fisk occasionally finds a scabbard, but his
preoccupation with attack, loud, hard and fast results in bass-string
buzzing that also detracts from the performance. Together with
copious lashings of 'Segoviaisms' the formula does not
augur well for overall enjoyment of the performance.
This is an interesting and enjoyable collection of music from
one of the most important modern composers for the guitar. Unfortunately
the standard of guitar playing does not always do justice to
review by Rob Barnett